GRAND RAPIDS – On the heels of National Black Business Month, the Michigan Small Business Development Center announces a new and entertaining Grand Rapids pitch competition on September 28 called Pitch Black.
It was created in 2021 in response to the detrimental effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on Black-owned businesses in Muskegon County. The highly successful competition is now coming to Grand Rapids and will focus on Black-owned businesses operating in Kent County.
In August, 20 Black business owners were selected from a pool of applicants to be contestants and have received pitch training to prepare them to present to a panel of Black judges during the preliminary rounds. Five to seven contestants will then be chosen as finalists and pitch for their share of $10,000 in front of a live studio audience. “It’s sort of like Shark Tank meets America’s Got Talent,” said Ed Garner, West Michigan Regional Director for the Michigan SBDC. “It will be on an auditorium stage in a game show style fashion – with a Black host, Black contestants, Black judges, Black music, Black dancers and even Men in Black. It’s our way of uplifting the Black business community and is part of our DEI initiative called Uplift Michigan™, a strategic movement designed to ensure equitable access for all diverse entrepreneurs across Michigan.”
Prior to the competition there will also be a business and resource showcase featuring all 20 contestants and selected organizations that support Black-owned businesses. The competition and showcase will take place on Thursday, September 28 in the Loosemore Auditorium at Grand Valley State University’s DeVos Center, 401 W. Fulton Street in Grand Rapids. The showcase opens at 5 p.m. and the competition will start at 6:30 p.m.
Pitch Black Grand Rapids is sponsored by Comerica Bank, Huntington Bank, Choice One Bank and Fifth Third Bank. Three cash prizes will be presented by the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at GVSU. The 1st Place Grand Prize is $5,000, with a 2nd place prize of $3,500, and a 3rd place prize of $1,500. The prize money can be used for any legitimate business purpose.
This event is free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged due to space limitations. All audience members are asked to dress in casual black attire.
For more information (including a list of the contestants & judges) and to register go to https://michigansbdc.org/pitch-black-gr/.